The transporter was originally invented out of necessity. With away teams going to-and-from alien planets regularly, the team behind Star Trek needed a way to get them to the ship and back again. They had shuttles that could solve this problem. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a feasible option. Landing a shuttle every episode would have been too much for the show’s limited budget. Instead the transporter was born. In the years since the transporter has remained, but small craft of all kinds have gained a more prominent role in the series with new shows.
Starfleet has access to more than just the normal shuttles used to ferry landing parties from the ship to a planet. They also have larger runabouts for longer trips, attack fighters for combat, and workbees and other maintenance craft to name a few. The runabout did play a major role in Deep Space Nine, but attack fighters and workbees rarely play a part beyond appearing in the background. Both the Enterprise-D and Voyager featured special auxiliary craft (the captain’s yacht and the aeroshuttle respectively) but neither were ever used. Are the small crafts of Star Trek underutilized? Would you like to see shuttles and fighters used in new and interesting ways, or do you like them the way they are?
So what do you think of the way Star Trek uses small craft?